Influenza-like illness (ILI) is an acute respiratory disease that remains a public health concern for its ability to circulate globally affecting any age group and gender causing serious illness with mortality risk. Comprehensive assessment of the spatio-temporal dynamics of ILI is a prerequisite for effective risk assessment and application of control measures. Though meteorological parameters, such as rainfall, average relative humidity and temperature, influence ILI and represent crucial information for control of this disease, the relation between the disease and these variables is not clearly understood in tropical climates. The aim of this study was to analyse the epidemiology of ILI cases using integrated methods (space-time analysis, spatial autocorrelation and other correlation statistics). After 2009s H1N1 influenza pandemic, Phitsanulok Province in northern Thailand was strongly affected by ILI for many years. This study is based on ILI cases in villages in this province from 2005 to 2012. We used highly precise weekly incidence records covering eight years, which allowed accurate estimation of the ILI outbreak. Comprehensive methodology was developed to analyse the global and local patterns of the spread of the disease. Significant space-time clusters were detected over the study region during eight different periods. ILI cases showed seasonal clustered patterns with a peak in 2010 (P>0.05-9.999 iterations). Local indicators of spatial association identified hotspots for each year. Statistically, the weather pattern showed a clear influence on ILI cases and it strongly correlated with humidity at a lag of 1 month, while temperature had a weaker correlation.
Influenza-like illness; Epidemiology; Space-time analysis; Weather variability; Thailand